What Went Wrong With… Amazon’s The Grand Tour & BBC’s Top Gear?

A review of The Grand Tour on Amazon Video and BBC's Top Gear by

Remember when ‘Top Gear’ was a genuine programme about cars, geared towards people who were keen on err.. cars? Remember when the presenters were actually interested, not to mention qualified in various aspects of motoring? There was Quentin Wilson a former used car dealer, former Formula One driver Tiff Needell, the ex-rallying Tony Mason, Steve Berry a motorbike specialist, and later Vicki Butler-Henderson, another racing car driver. Jeremy Clarkson, a journalist who once worked for a car magazine, was added to the programme in 1988. Back then he wasn’t the star of the show, the stars of the show were the cars themselves.

The programme started in the seventies, but I remember it becoming popular in the eighties. Tuning in to BBC Two and hearing ‘Jessica’ by the Allman Brothers Band during the opening and Elton John’s ‘Out Of The Blue’ during the closing credits, I became fond of the show that back then was both informative and entertaining. The segmented way ‘Top Gear’ was laid out meant that whatever your area of interest, it was catered for. If you wanted to know what deals to look out for in the used car market, who won the latest rally championship, or which new car had the highest safety rating, then you were in luck. And yet even with this seemingly safe and middle-of-the-road format, in the eighties ‘Top Gear’ was criticised for being too macho. I guess the critics and viewers didn’t know what would become of the programme over the next two decades.

‘Top Gear’ finally became a worn-out format by the late nineties and the show was then cancelled and relaunched in 2002 with a new look. We were then introduced to the new line-up of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richard Hammond, and a mystery test driver known as ‘The Stig’. It was at this point that the emphasis was placed on “show” with the reviewing of cars taking a back-seat to pointless, over-the-top challenges. Strangely however, it was this set-up that became popular, and for over a decade this version of ‘Top Gear’ became an internationally known TV staple, despite it being the most asinine shite to ever have been transmitted.

Then, at the height of the show’s popularity, Clarkson was sacked after he assaulted the programme’s producer. At this point the format was essentially split in two, with the BBC retaining the programme’s name and changing the presenters to Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc, and Amazon signing up the “original” three presenters and giving them a different titled series known as ‘The Grand Tour’ to be broadcast on their streaming service. On a side note, where outside of the corrupt entertainment industry could you beat up a colleague and then find a higher paying job in the same sector? It makes you wonder if all this was pre-planned so some overpaid presenters could make even more moolah.

It was obvious to everyone that the BBC version of ‘Top Gear’ would fail miserably. I mean did they even think this shit through? Who wants to watch Joey from ‘Friends’ driving a car alongside the prick from ‘TFI Friday’? So with BBC’s ruination of ‘Top Gear’, we’re now left with Amazon’s offering, a big-budget programme complete with drone shots, epic vistas, far-flung locations, and let’s not forget the endless speed-ramping that seems to be ripped from a noughties Hollywood film. But apart from the budget increase it’s basically a rebranded version of the BBC show.

It seems that nobody cares about uniqueness and individuality any more, if a programme is popular it is kept stagnant for decades until it eventually deteriorates. During its run and even during its decline we have copycats creating their own versions in an attempt to cash in and sway audiences. So despite the current ‘Top Gear’ format being well over a decade and a half old, producers and broadcasters, even on a rival company won’t change it for fear of losing some imaginary audience. It seems that both the BBC and Amazon will keep persisting in a dying format until it’s well and truly dead.

Shows should move with the times, but this ‘Top Gear’ circa 2002 style hasn’t moved one iota, aside from ‘The Grand Tour’ being shown on Amazon Video, this is now an obviously stale and clichéd 15 year old format. And speaking of old, Jeremy Clarkson still seems to revel in his mildly-controversial spiel that also seems to have made its way onto Amazon. In the first episode of ‘The Grand Tour’ he says when referring to the presenters; “We’re like gypsies, but the cars we’re going to be driving will be insured” …how utterly amusing, Jeremy. I’ve heard his fans defend his prejudice in the past, they say crap like; “I like that he’s non-PC”, “he doesn’t care what people think”, and “he’s saying what’s on people’s minds”. Clarkson reminds me of another old-arsed white dude who’s risen to the top of the pile despite being a prejudice prat. I guess we’re in a time where the old guard is becoming the new guard once again. But I digress.

With ‘The Grand Tour’ costing a reported £4.5 million per episode (with Netflix claiming Amazon spent $250 million on the entire series) you have to agree that this show is an absolute waste of money. A motoring programme that’s not only outdated, it’s now a wannabe Hollywood blockbuster too – is this not the most idiotic shite you’ve ever heard of?

So why is Amazon wasting this amount of cash when they haven’t really updated the format? I mean there’s still the same three knob-heads; Jeremy Clarkson (the private-schooled one with a Brillo pad glued to his noggin), James May (the upper-middle-class, flowery shirt fetishist who’s as bland as Bovril), and finally Richard Hammond (the short, perpetually grinning moron whose presenting style and height is more suited to a kids TV show). Hammond’s over-enthusiasm is incredibly annoying to watch, and with at least two of the trio sporting preppie mullets that make Noel Edmonds or Bill Maher look stylish, they really are the epitome of out-of-touch. These three tits have absolutely no charisma between them, and with their Marks And Spencer shirts tucked into their pre-worn dad-jeans whilst their beer-belly hangs over their belt buckle, the three of them giggling at each other’s non-repartee is a sad sight indeed. As the two sidekicks look in awe at the tallest, curly-haired cunt in the centre, we the audience are left wondering what’s so entertaining about a few bell-ends on an all bells-and-whistles show.

Pissing about “touring” the world, erecting a studio, filling it with local fawners – the titles and broadcaster may have changed but absolutely nothing has been updated, even in the slightest. It’s still those aforementioned three twats from the BBC; those dreary, middle-aged morons who seem to be having a prolonged mid-life crisis, driving expensive supercars in locations they probably can’t even point to on a map. And because of their ever-increasing age, and the ever-increasing price tag of the cars they choose to drive, they now “look like a slug on a diamond” as Armando Iannucci once said. The sheer power and grunt of the cars that surround them now make their wrinkly old arses look even wrinklier, surely they’d be better off telling us which car has the most comfortable seats to accommodate their sciatica and hernias? (Other ailments are available).

The only change I can see is that instead of The Stig there’s now a tub of lard known as “The American” who spurts contrived mild-prejudice for foreign cars as his corn-filled gut smacks up against various international steering wheels. But apart from the budget hike and the irritating Yank, what’s changed? Like I said before, it’s the same format, the same tone, the same old audience pandering to the same old prats – it’s the same shite but on a different channel. Watch more than one episode and it’ll leave you simultaneously bored and annoyed, there may be the odd piece of information, but the mildly interesting titbits are once again smothered by exaggerated spectacle.

Let’s not forget that ‘The Grand Tour’ is supposed to be a motoring programme. They’re supposed to tell the public what vehicle is economical to run, has good or bad handling, the right amount of boot space, and on occasion which ones are out of our reach. But this programme has none of that, it’s all about aspirational, non-achievable window shopping. It’s plainly geared toward motoring-masturbators who like to jizz their dusty cum over chromed hood ornaments and pearlescent paintwork, knowing full well they’ll never drive across the Black Rock Desert in a bullet-proof Bugatti. So what really is the point of all this shite?

By the looks of things, I’m in the minority when it comes to motoring shows. If I chose to watch a programme about vehicles, I want to see something that compliments the subject matter. Testing off-road cars off road I get, racing supercars on a track I get, but blowing caravans up? Most of the so-called “spectacles” seem to be there just to distract from the tediousness of the three pricks presenting, but all the slow-mo and corny music in the world can’t change the fact that ‘Top Gear’ and now ‘The Grand Tour’ is essentially men driving some cars. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see endless explosions and stunts. In fact the more I see, the more desensitised I get to big-budget show-pieces, to the point where if Clarkson then suddenly chose to review a Kia Picanto in an Asda carpark, I’d actually be interested (there’s an idea for a show – Sky and Channel 5 take note).

Seeing this titting triumvirate and their decrepit mugs on the top of Amazon Video every time I launch the app, it really makes me consider my subscription to the streaming service. But, whilst I have to put up with these three morons on my Fire TV, I do also have the ability to play The Allman Brothers Band on Amazon Music Unlimited and reminisce over the original show. Then in a nostalgic stupor, I can order some eggs from Amazon Fresh and pelt them at Clarkson, Hammond, and or May if I see them in the street whilst I listen to the original theme to ‘Top Gear’ on my iPod (that I received within 24 hours thanks to Amazon Prime). Subscription renewed.

Grand Twats.

13 replies »

  1. Who writes this shit? Top Gear originally was a failed format..hence the reason it was cancelled. I remember (who can forget) those mind numbingly boring reviews of a Rover 213 v Vauxhall Astra v Ford Escort 1.3LX? If you can get past the bias of this “journalism” and its inherent hatred of comedy by the writer (someone you would hate to be sat next to for any duration of time im sure) then you would realise that this programme is ENTERTAINMENT not just a car review. No.. Grand Tour is not there to tell you the MPG of your car..if you give a toss about that go look on the internet at the forums that will tell you everything you need to know.. we are so past that level in todays internet savy buyers market its just not required. Sure they could quote some manufarcturers figures or some EU regulated bunkum, but would you believe it?! TBH nothing went wrong with the GT… and everything that is wrong with the BBC went wrong with TG..if you want to rail against wanky car programmes then look no further than the liberal lefty politically correct tossers at the BBC anf their multicultural multi faith multi national wank fest Top Gear.

    • There’s so much wrong with your comment that I’ll go through it point by point:

      • I write this shit, does that help matters?
      • Top Gear became a failed format because the morons at the BBC didn’t change its content for 25 years, in that amount of time anything will get worn out – that I acknowledged in the article.
      • The Grand Tour and 2002’s relaunched Top Gear is now also an old format because it hasn’t changed for almost 15 years. What’s the point in defending something that’s also becoming a failed format?
      • Which nerd remembers specific reviews if they’re so “mind numbingly boring”?
      • Who the fuck are you talking to in your “If you can get past the bias” sentence?
      • What “inherent hatred of comedy” do I display? You must mean bigoted comedy – the kind of shite you must watch (Roy Chubby Brown probably).
      • Why would I ever sit next to someone as mainstream and dull as you?
      • Making the excuse that a specific show is “entertainment” therefore it doesn’t have to inform makes no sense. Everything on TV is entertainment, do you switch off documentaries because there’s a lack of explosions? Since nobody’s tried informing AND entertaining in a car show, there’s no point in knocking that idea. Why does everything have to be either/or – uninteresting and filled with information or brash and dumbed down?
      • Why go to an “internet forum” to find information on a car? It’s not some kind of hidden knowledge – just read the brochure or manual.
      • Why does your comment in defence of The Grand Tour slowly turn into a contrived right-wing rant? Shows what kind of people watch this shite.
      • How the fuck are the British Broadcasting Corporation left-wing? Bland and safe isn’t liberal, trying not to offend anybody is centrist by definition. This site is genuinely left-wing and I have numerous articles that are aimed at the BBC and Channel 4, channels that only uninformed conservatives think are left-leaning.
      • Top Gear started with all-male, all-white presenters, they then added two white women. They then fired everybody and hired three white men. They then fired these three white men and hired two white men. How the flying fuck is this “multicultural multi faith multi national”?
      • It’s “manufacturers” not “manufarcturers” and it’s “savvy” not “savy”, if you’re so against other nations and races, at least get your own frigging language right.

      Most importantly:

      • Mr. Internet Savvy doesn’t realise that “BBC” on the internet is an acronym for “Big Black Cock” therefore your screen name “Blow Me BBC” given your bigoted stance is the epitome of ironic.
    • ” Top Gear started with all-male, all-white presenters, they then added two white women. They then fired everybody and hired three white men. They then fired these three white men and hired two white men. ” lol do you think they read this? they made some suspicious changes for the new series…………rory reid & chris harris………

  2. This reads like the ramblings of a cranky old man. If I had to guess I would peg your age as late 50’s…

    The old format was boring and became irrelevant to Top Gear’s growing global audience. Someone in Australia or South Africa aren’t going to care about some crappy Rovers fuel economy that they can’t even buy in their country or some deal the local Honda dealer in Leeds is having. If this is the information you seek, YouTube is absolutely FULL of informative car review videos. They’ve largely picked up the slack there for factual car information because people can search straight for the car they’re looking at buying rather than twiddling their thumbs hoping Top Gear will do a comparison, maybe.

    As an alternative you are aware of Fifth Gear right?

    You seem to struggle with a couple key concepts. Informative car shoes are not popular. It doesn’t matter how you present them, the audience interested is just too small. Which is why Top Gear became what it was. An entertainment show because that appealed to many more people, not just car nerds. So the show was able to continue growing globally.

    I am confused by your whole point though. You don’t like the current format that’s been around for over a decade so I assumed you wanted the hosts doing the old informative format, but you seem to hate them too. You then say the current format is old and dated yet you appear to want to go to an even older format?

    I don’t see what having a big long whinge is achieving other than hits to your site because you’re baiting people by having a negative opinion on a popular current topic.

    There are lots of shows I liked that I felt grew stale or but that’s just my opinion. The shows were still popular and I just stopped watching them. Not a big deal.

    Bottom line… If you don’t like it – don’t watch it.

    • Wrong guess, friend. Which late 50 year old would review A$AP Rocky and Iggy Azalea in 2012? Think this shit through.

      Actually I’m around three times that age, I whispered in the ear of Karl Benz and Henry Ford, I’ve been here since the whole thing began. Pardon me if I don’t approve of a dire show cheapening my creation.

      What makes no sense to me is that if you agree that the original Top Gear is now old, why can’t you accept that the current Top Gear/The Grand Tour format is also out of date since that concept has now been around for over a decade and a half? In addition, nowhere did I say that I want the original Top Gear back, I want something completely new.

      It’s strange that you suggest the idea of “if you don’t like it – don’t watch it” but for some reason you can’t get it through your cranium that if you don’t like my article, maybe don’t read it.

      G’day mate.

    • “Informative car shoes are not popular ” – Are they not? Shoes which informs its wearer of cars might take off if you advertise them.

      Grand Tour on the other hand I have no clue as to why it’s popular. 3 tossers with shitloads of money driving cars you and me can’t afford. No thank you

    • I’d love to know if let’s say each article said “by Richard Johnson” what frigging difference would that make? What are you, a cyber stalker or just a pedantic twat? Do you want my address, social security number, and blood type too?

      See where it says “By What Went Wrong Or Right With…?” on the top of every single fucking article? It may not be as comedic as Mr. Butts but it is my pen name.

      Do you piss around the internet accusing every writer with a nom de plume of being a coward? The days must really fly by.

    • Does that make Mark Twain, who was actually Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a coward for using his pen name? N-O you dumb shit.

  3. As Top Gear became more and more like Last of the Summer Petrol, Clarkson made pointedly self-aware comments in Top Gear about companies churning out the same tired product.

  4. When I was 15 or 16, my dad randomly purchased The World According to Clarkson Book 3. It was fairly funny, I particularly remember a watch review and a mobile phone review. I laughed a lot at those.

    He did strike me as rather pro-capitalism(elitist kind of guy), but I was young, I didn’t bother too much, I just knew not to show the book to my mom, it struck me that she wouldn’t like it too much. I did read out a few articles I felt were ok(that watch one for example)

    Teens I think, who don’t know a lot about the real world, tend to like these “grumpy” personas. Probably why nowadays it’s X DESTROYED sjw or something which gets popular or whatever. Anyway, I forgot about it and I have never even watched Top Gear, but I had a soft spot for Clarkson, since he had made me laugh.

    Well, suddenly there’s talk that he’s been fired and said the n word and whatnot. I was like, ok, benefit of doubt. He got divorced too, which is often a tell-tale sign. Women don’t often quit long marriages for no reason.

    And basically I found out that he’s a pakka Englishman. Like someone straight from The East India Company. The Oxford or whatever graduate, who is a snob, and quite racist. Like Sir Humphrey I suppose, but I really love Sir Humphrey and I doubt Sir Nigel Hawthorne was like that. But Sir Humphrey is rather distinguished whereas Mr. Clarkson is rather vulgar.

    Not only was he racist to all the various subjects of the British Empire, for some reason, the English are racist to the Irish as well. Perhaps the Scots too? Considering they live on a tiny Island and speak a language not less complicated that Gaelige, I wonder why exactly they get that superior feeling.

    But I have a sad feeling that the Irish and Scottish would be racist to me anyway, despite the fact that I quite like them, by way of Cuchulainn and Alan Breck.

  5. Very small detail missing here. In the early nineties it was announced that the BBC were dropping Top Gear along with some other shows. This detail captured the imagination of an individual who was a car enthusiast, an enthusiast interested in TV, movies etc. That individual was working within the circles of the BBC. Keeping this very short that individual then worked with Andy Wilman on a project discussing a rescue package for Top Gear. For those of you that did not know, Andy Wilman provided the Material for the show.
    Moving onto year 2000 that same individual contributed to automotive film once again. The movie was and is Cars. Cars is the catalyst for many of Pixars animations. there were other films outside of the Pixar franchise. All those movies 2000 on are connected based on a real story inclusive that original meeting with Andy Wilman, the details were built into the Cars script. This was done as an insurance policy, defending the claim of supplying the script.
    Difficult as it is, this is the reality. much of if not all the structure originated from one source. That source was never rewarded or credited for their efforts.
    Needless to say that individual attempted to bring to attention their contribution to those who needed to know, its well documented that a number of individuals no longer work for these huge production company’s. These corporation are once again back in the position they started at.

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